SpiritFarmer


December 16, 2005, 4:42 pm
Filed under: uncategorized

A hack attempt at a book review . . .

Up until a few weeks ago, my choice for favorite book of the year would have been a no brainer – The Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch. Outstanding thinking, crystal clear illustrative metaphors, and strong arguments. But then on a relative whim, I picked up Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Yes, Anne Rice, the vampire lady. This new novel is the first in what will be a new series on the life of Christ.

I’ll try not to spoil too many details here, because, really what you need to do is e-mail Bill over at Bean Books and order a copy for yourself. Basically, the book is written in the first person – the story is told by a seven and eight year old Jesus. It begins in Alexandria, Egypt and details his family’s move back to Nazareth after the death of Herod. We see the boy Messiah struggling with his identity, which he hasn’t been told about, and yet he senses that something is very different about him.

One of the big reasons that I enjoyed this book so much didn’t really hit me until I was about three-quarters of the way through it. It’s a nice story, imaginative, but not fanciful. But here’s the deal – it is completely believable, almost too believable, in the sense that so many of the details of time and culture seemed pretty mundane to me. But then I realized that the reason things appear mundane is that the author got the culture and the context of the story right. I’ve become so familiar with the biblical texts and cultural descriptions that this story fell right into place. I realized that this was a deceptive sort of “falling right into place,” though. It took serious work for Rice to develop such a “mundane” and believable story.

After I came to this thought, I began reading things more carefully – the nuance of the descriptions of buildings, and familial circles, and Temple worship. As I continued, I kept thinking over and over, “Anne Rice must have read N.T. Wright in her research.”

At the end of the book, there’s a somewhat lengthy Author’s Note, in which Rice describes her journey of faith. Truthfully, this little section is worth the price of the book. I saw that it was there early on, but disciplined myself not to read it until after I had completed the novel – because after all, isn’t that why she put it at the end instead of the beginning? Well, my question was answered – she did in fact read and learn from N.T. Wright . . . as well as many, many others (heck, she even credits D.A. Carson!). Her level of scholarship in preparing this book is truly impressive. And the conclusions she comes to after having read a full range of opinion on scripture and its implications.

I don’t read many novels (do McLaren’s New Kind of Christian books count as novels?), so I’m really not qualified to give a credible literary opinion. Also, I guess I should mention that I’ve not read any of Anne Rice’s prior 25 or so books. But this story is interesting and compelling. It comes to a climax at just the right time and place. And true to its serial nature, it leaves you wanting more. I don’t know what Rice’s intended publishing schedule is, but I will definitely follow this one.

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2 Comments so far
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So far everyone I know who has read it has liked it. The lady behind the desk at the gym was disapointed to think Anne wouldn’t be writing anymore more vampire books.

Here’s what a friend of mine had to say, he also said the Afterword was worth the price of the book.
http://www.theocentric.com/theoarchives/000199.html

Comment by Bill Bean

Well, I was very simply blown away by your review of Christ the Lord. Because my intention was to make this story utterly believable. That was the idea: to say, look, this is what we believe; well then, how did it go down moment to moment, week to week? I thank you for recording your thoughts in response to it. I’m off the Holy Land and then plunging into the second book. I come out of this experience of publishing this book amazed that so many people now want to talk about God and will not be stopped from doing it. They’re hungry for Christian films and art, yet something strangles the media on this. Well, thanks again for your comments. May you have a blessed new year. Anne Rice.

Comment by anneobrienrice@mac.com




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